Spoiled Children of Divorce


West Coast

There’s a Phenomenon called “The Emerald Flash.” This is a Bolt of Green light that is said to sometimes be visible for a split second just as the Sun sets over the Ocean. I grew up in a beach town in California and my Mother used to make a game out of staring at the Sunset to see if we could see this Green Light. She said that one of her boyfriends had said that he had seen it. The West Coast, especially California, is a haven for Single Moms looking for a new life. I think they’re all looking for the God Damned Emerald Flash. As an adult, I’ve lived next door to a couple of women who have moved to California, and, not being able to afford the rent for a big place, have set up a little “Bedroom” for their kid in the closet of their studio apartment. Probably I’m over-reacting but they never seem like the happiest neighbors in the world. I suppose these women expose their kids to a life full of hopes and dreams and the sense that anything is possible. Several of the kids have become famous writers and have written books, either memoir or fiction about the Single Momdums of their childhoods and teens.

The big classic in this “genre” is James M. Cain’s famous 1930s novel, Mildred Pierce, about a Mother who works to raise her daughter in a certain style and then the daughter runs off with Mildred’s husband. I think this is the old school Single Mom story. Nowadays I think it might be more appropriate that Mom runs off with the daughter’s boyfriend or husband.

Mona Simpson wrote an incredible book about a young girl and her Mother who move to California in the 1970s in Anywhere But Here.  Was there a movie of this?

Tobias Wolfe wrote a memoir about his boyhood called This Boy’s Life. His Mom meant to bring him to California but somehow the two ended up in Washington. The book tells about the struggles to survive and his awful relationship with his Step-Father. I’ve only seen the movie.  It starred Robert de Niro, Ellen Barkin, and Leonardo di Caprio and was unbelievably depressing.


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